Abuse response is too little, too late
The state’s abuse response system is largely unresponsive to reports of individuals with intellectual disabilities in supported living, who are subject to physical harm, psychological trauma, sexual assault and even death, according to a new report issued by Disability Rights Washington and Columbia Legal Services.
These two organizations conducted an in-depth investigation and contracted with two nationally-recognized abuse response system experts who uncovered a Washington state-run system ineffective at keeping people safe. In 85% of serious allegations of abuse and neglect against Supported Living employees, including physical harm, sexual assault and death, there was no evidence, 9 to 12 months later, that an investigation into the specific allegations against the employee had been started. The report also shows how Supported Living providers, certified to serve individuals with intellectual disabilities, operate with very little oversight.
The report outlines five recommendations for the state which include mandating prompt investigations for abuse and neglect, and allocating sufficient staff to complete investigations.